The long-running embezzlement trial of Cameroonian President Paul Biya's former chief of staff must be re-started from scratch, his lawyer said Wednesday, denouncing the delay.
Titus Edzoa, who is already serving a 15-year sentence imposed in 1999 for a separate case of embezzlement, was also Biya's personal doctor and health minister.
He fell out with the president in 1997 when he resigned from the cabinet and announced he planned to stand for election against his former boss.
He has been on trial since October 2009 with three other suspects on charges of influence-peddling and attempted embezzlement of 61 billion CFA francs (93 million euros, $112 million).
The court was due to give its verdict Wednesday, but instead announced the trial would have to be completely re-started on July 30 because one of the three judges hearing the case had been transferred.
"It's nothing serious," an emotional Leonard Ndem, Ezoa's lawyer, told AFP sarcastically. "We've been under the same pressure for 15 years."
Edzoa was first arrested in 1997, a few days after declaring his presidential bid. He was subsequently convicted of embezzlement in the earlier case and jailed for 15 years in 1999.
"It's underhanded on the part of the state," said Charles Tchoungang, defence lawyer for Edzoa's co-defendant Michel Thierry Atangana, a French national who was also sentenced to 15 years with Edzoa in the 1999 case.
Edzoa and Atangana have denounced the charges against them as politically motivated.
Biya, who has been in power since 1982, won election to a sixth term in October 2011 in a vote widely criticised by the opposition and diplomats as riddled with irregularities and fraud.
Source: AFP Global Edition